Morning all, a quick Saturday round-up for you.
Aside from the team news, which we’ll touch on later or in tomorrow’s blog (or Monday’s blog), the first thing Arsene was asked at the press conference yesterday was whether or not a deal had been done for Lukasz Podolski.
Naturally, Arsene gave it the old, “When we sign a player we will tell you” stuff, said that a deal hadn’t been done, cautioned people that even though a deal can be very close it doesn’t take much to turn very close into very far away, and generally gave nothing away. Except through the look on his face which pretty much told us that there’s definitely something to it.
And while there appears to be a willingness on both sides to do the deal, the thing to pay most attention to is that it’s not done yet. Much can happen and until he’s signed, sealed, delivered and then shot by Stuart MacFarlane (with a camera, obviously) we should remain a touch cautious about the whole thing. And Wenger said:
He can play for us because he can play central, play right and play on the left. He has 96 caps for Germany and is 26 years old, which is the best age. He’s available at a reasonable price, if we can reach an agreement, but at the moment we’re nowhere near.
The boss also dismissed suggestions that the German would be a replacement for Robin van Persie, about whom he was quite clear.
Our plan is to keep Robin van Persie even if we buy any player. Robin is the leader of our club, and I was just like to specify that he is not out of contract.
He has a contract until 2013.
The papers this morning are full of stories about how Wenger will NEVER, NEVER, NEVER sell van Persie to Man City, and you get the sense that he was particularly burnt by the departure of Nasri and how it all went down.
One day I’d like to write a book about last summer. There’s a wrong understanding about what happened. They can say they don’t like the players we bought, but the way it happened was not the responsibility of the club.
The club has been treated very badly because of that and I don’t think the club was guilty of anything during that transfer period. I was very adamant (on Nasri) but, at the end of the day, it was a difficult situation to manage. If a player didn’t want to extend, where do we go from there? But we’ll see.
Now, you won’t find me making any excuses for Nasri. Between him and his agents they behaved as badly as any people can behave in those circumstances. They dressed Nasri up real nice like, and lay him seductively on a bed in front of Man United who thought they’d take him for a ride, then didn’t. Then did the same with Man City and when that looked like it was going to fall through Nasri presented like a cat in heat to PSG, to make sure he got as much money as possible, before City came back to tickle his bra straps.
Yet, those of us on the outside could see what was going on and how it would inevitably end up. Not just in Nasri’s case but with Cesc and Barcelona too, and while I am quite positive there’s a lot went on behind the scenes that we don’t know about, I’m still pretty sure we could, in hindsight, have handled things different and better.
The thing about running one of the richest football clubs in the world is that you’re not paid for hindsight. You’re paid to be able to make the right decisions at the right time, and I don’t know that we did that. And not doing that forced is into making other decisions which weren’t right. Whatever might be in this book – which I would be very interested in reading – you cannot tell me that the signing of Park was anything other than a last ditch, desperate gamble which has not paid off. It’s been bad for us and bad for a player who has essentially wasted a year of his career.
All the same, this is old ground, we’ve been here time and time again, but perhaps it has had an influence because the signs for this summer are better. It appears as if we’re trying to identify and secure targets as early as possible. One can only assume that if Podolski is not the only piece of business we’re trying to do, that similar contact is being made with other clubs and other players, and that change of strategy can only be because there is some acceptance that the way things went down last summer wasn’t optimal, shall we say?
As for Robin, I genuinely don’t know why people still talk about his contract as if anything has changed in recent weeks. As Arsene says:
We want to keep Robin van Persie, we will do everything possible to extend his contract, that is clear, and apart from that, I can only let people talk.
What he wants to do, we will speak at the end of the season.
And it has been this way for months, this is nothing new. My personal opinion is that if we finish top four, van Persie stays, no question, and that, along with some real investment this summer, would be enough for him to sign a new contract with the club. A contract that the man has done more than enough to earn.
I think that’s what he wants more than anything, to be part of a truly competitive Arsenal team. He’ll be 29 in August, he’s still got plenty left in his tank, but all the same he’s heading towards mid-late summer in terms of his career and at this point I suspect ambition and the potential to win trophies is as important as anything else. For that reason, the ball is in our court. Let’s finish top four, let’s spend well this summer, and the rest will take care of itself.
Right, it’s a quiet day today, no Arsenal till Monday, so that’ll have to do. More tomorrow.